One of the Muslim converts arrested for allegedly plotting a Fort Hood-style assault on a Seattle military installation appears to be a disciple of radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and sought to move to Yemen, where Awlaki is an al Qaeda leader.
Abu Khadir Abdul-Latif, 33, posted multiple comments on-line praising Awlaki, posted an Awlaki sermon on his YouTube video account, and made a YouTube video in which he blasts President Obama for authorizing the killing of Awlaki.
"Many Muslims ran to elect Barack Obama," says Abdul-Latif, dressed in camouflage. "But what has he done? He's done nothing and he made war against Islam. He's even put a hit on Anwar al Awlaki, our brother sheik, may Allah protect him."
In February, Abdul-Latif posted an ad on-line seeking a teaching job in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen: "I am looking for an opportunity to make hijrah to Yemen with the chance of having a job waiting for me to teach English to any and all ages." The word hijrah means migration or a flight to escape danger, and is used in Islam to refer to the Prophet Muhammad's flight from Mecca to Medina.
Abdul-Latif and Walli Mujahidh, 32, have been charged with plotting to attack the Military Entrance Processing Station in Seattle on July 5. According to the FBI, Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh sought to determine "how they could kill the most military personnel and escape or die as martyrs" and discussed using fragmentation grenades in the facility's cafeteria.
There's no indication Awlaki was in direct contact with the Seattle suspects, but his polished rhetoric has proven to be a powerful recruiting tool for al Qaeda and an inspiration to such terrorists as Faisal Shahzad, convicted of attempting to detonate a carbomb in Times Square. Palestinian-American Army Major Nidal Hasan, who had exchanged emails about jihad with Anwar al-Awlaki, is currently awaiting trial on multiple counts of murder and attempted murder for the November 2009 Fort Hood massacre, in which 13 people died.
There have been at least eight attacks or alleged plots against military installations since 2009. Just this week, Marine Reservist Yonathan Melaku was charged with shooting at military sites, including the Pentagon, after he was arrested in Arlington National Cemetery with a backpack full of inert ammonium nitrate.
The FBI says Abdul-Latif hoped the attack on the Seattle processing center would inspire other Muslims to carry out similar assaults on enlistment centers. According to the criminal complaint filed Thursday, Mujahidh told FBI agents that he wanted to die a martyr, and said the purpose of the attack was to kill U.S. military personnel so they could not be deployed to Islamic lands.
Abdul-Latif, a convicted felon once known as Joseph Davis, referred admiringly to the Fort Hood massacre, according to an FBI informant. He allegedly said that "if one person could kill so many people, three attackers could kill many more" and that if he was killed in his own attack, his son would be proud he had fought the "non-believers."
He has also posted a number of videos on-line attacking the U.S. military. In one, he criticizes the U.S. for alleged atrocities in Islamic countries. "There are even United States military soldiers who are over there raping women and killing Muslims and are not being held accountable for it." On a video of an Awlaki sermon, he posted a comment praising Awlaki and seeming to praise accused Ft. Hood shooter Nidal Hasan. "May Allah bless Anwar al-Awlaki," he wrote. "And hopefully there will be more soldiers who come out of the woodwork to serve Allah."
Officials say Abdul-Latif served briefly in the U.S. Navy in 1995. He has at least two felony convictions: robbery in the first degree in 2002 and assault a year later while serving time in Washington state for the robbery. Walli Mujahidh, who lives in Los Angeles but traveled to Seattle by bus this week, has no known felony convictions.
The FBI investigation revealed Abdul-Latif had converted to Islam while in prison for armed robbery. While allegedly making plans for his attack, he lived in an $800 per month Seattle apartment with his infant son and grateful wife.
"He goes to mosque, he works hard, I don't have to pay rent, he's clothing me, housing me." Binta Moussa-Davis told ABC affiliate KOMO-TV.
Just last month Abdul-Latif filed for bankruptcy, claiming to have only $1.08 in the bank.
Posting videos on YouTube, however, is free. The same month he filed for bankruptcy, he made a video in which he promoted jihad and dared viewers to turn him into the FBI.
"We must establish jihad," says Abdul-Latif as his son cries in the background. "I don't care what anyone says about that. You can turn me into the FBI, whatever."
Abdul-Latif and Mujahidh were arrested Wednesday night after allegedly buying automatic weapons from an informant.